Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Texting While Driving

Texting while driving is very dangerous. So too is using your cell phone at all, which makes you as dangerous as a drunk driver.

The usual question seems to be whether to make texting or cell phone use illegal while driving. But such laws, even if in place, are almost never going to be enforced. A better idea is a federal law mandating that all cell phones or texting devices be equipped with some sort of device that makes them impossible to use in a moving vehicle.

7 Comments:

Blogger axay said...

as part of the burgeoning mobile communication industry, i will fight that legislation tooth and nail. we are spending billions to provide communication while on the move and that too at broadband speeds... a ban like this is highly oppressive.. :D

but thanks for your good intentions

1:38 AM  
Blogger Vivian said...

If you make cell phones impossible to use in a moving vehicle, that would also affect PASSENGERS trying to use them. What if you're lost and need your passenger to call for directions?

12:04 AM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Vivian: My suggestion would be just to pull over for a minute. Better yet, auto companies and phone companies could figure out how to disable phone usage by the driver alone.

Axay: I'm sure alcohol companies and distributors would love it if we allowed drunk driving, and that drunks feel oppressed if they get pulled over, but the rest of us have enough of an interest in not getting killed that it's worth it.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Michael Drake said...

This is very disappointing, because one of my hobbies is texting while DUI on my motorcycle without a helmet. I guess from now on I'll have to chat from my laptop.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Darwin said...

I must admit, I've always been highly dubious of the claim that driving with a cell phone is as debilitating to one's abilities as driving drunk. I suppose it would depend a lot on one's definition of "drunk" and who you're looking at. Some people seem to get very distracted on cell phones, but others, not at all -- especially with a hands-free headset.

Either way, given that we don't require that all cars have breathilizers build in so you can't drive drunk, I'm not sure there's precedent from that direction for some sort of phone-disabling technology. And I'm sure that were there such a thing proposed, it would probably be shot down regardless on the basis of "hard cases" like "What if a woman is being chased in her car by her abusive husband and she's trying to call the police."

Hard cases may make bad law, but in this case I think I'd stand back and watch while they kept something like this off the books.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Yes! Automatic breathalyzers on steering wheels! I can imagine hard cases there too (the drunk person who is being chased by a serial killer), but that is surely outweighed by the tens of thousands of people who die every year thanks to drunk drivers. If there's reasonable evidence that cell phone users pose the same risk, then the "hard cases" of which you speak would equally be outweighed by the thousands of lives saved.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

And if I recall, the evidence actually shows that it's not a matter of hands-free headsets -- the distraction of using a cell phone is equally present whatever type of cell phone you use. I think this is because the distraction arises from being caught up in a disembodied conversation that is somewhere other than your actual surroundings.

4:48 PM  

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